Only 21 years-old when this recording was made, Rémi Geniet offers us a fascinating portrait of Bach on the piano. From the virtuosity of the early works like the Toccata to the supreme mastery of the dance suites (Partita and English Suite), the drama and brio of Bach's keyboard music can vie with that of operas or concertos. Rémi Geniet was one of the last students of the great pianist Brigitte Engerer and is now under the guidance of Prof. Evgeni Koroliov in Hamburg. At the age of 20, he was awarded the second prize of the Queen Elisabeth 2013 International Piano Competition in Belgium. This debut recording has already been distinguished by a Diapason d'Or by the french classical music magazine Diapason.
"The trees are coming into leaf/Like something almost being said." Taking a cue from these lines of Philip Larkin, pianist Simone Dinnerstein casts her album of the music of J.S. Bach and Franz Schubert in poetic terms. Her understanding of the composers is summed up in her own words: "The music of Bach and Schubert share a distinctive quality, as if wordless voices were singing textless melodies." Of course, Bach and Schubert were masters of setting texts to profoundly expressive music, so it is fruitful to look for the lyrical impulse in their keyboard works and appropriate to find songful interpretations. Yet Dinnerstein doesn't merely serve up rhapsodic renditions or treat the music as some kind of tuneful vehicle for idiosyncratic or personal reveries. Her playing is quite in character for both composers, and her treatment of the material is far from self-indulgent. Indeed, counterpoint and harmony are carefully balanced against the upper lines, and Dinnerstein is completely in control of the inner parts in Bach's partitas and the rhythmic subtleties of Schubert impromptus. Dinnerstein's playing is well-rounded and skillful, and the care she lavishes on the smallest details of execution may well remind listeners of Glenn Gould (without his attendant eccentricities) or Angela Hewitt.
The playing of many professional classical guitarists leaves me cold. Where they flawlessly execute a score, Bream has spaciously conceived the music using something it seems is in short supply- a disciplined imagination. Each note, instead of sounding like part of an automatic process, sounds conceived and executed deliberately. Bream attended conservatory, where he was told not to bring his "gypsy instrument".